SOUTH BEND, Ind. – After Bethel University created an esports team, its athletic department partnered with the city of South Bend on a new esports venture.
The Century Center’s Bendix Theatre (soon to be the 600-seat Bendix Arena) is undergoing a $2-million renovation to create space for esports activities and competitions. Bethel University will be a permanent tenant and their esports team will receive access to the Bendix Arena for competition and a dedicated practice room within a LAN café at the site.
The Bethel University Athletic Department’s Esports team is set to begin in fall 2020 and is searching for a coach for the team.
Christopher Hess, Bethel’s associate athletic director, is leading the charge for getting the program up and running. “For those who aren’t familiar with esports, it might seem strange for Bethel to be starting a team,” says Hess. “But this is the future, and a lot of students are attracted to a school where they can participate as part of a team instead of video games being a solitary activity.”
Esports has the fastest-growing global audience of all sports, estimated at 433 million fans. According to the National Association of Collegiate Esports, more than 170 colleges and universities have a varsity esports program, with many student-athletes concentrated in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) majors.